vulture bait day 2: mono lake, lee vining, yosemite.

Above: endless fields of chamomile at Mono Lake, best smelling lake ever. Eventually there'll be something about the Los Angeles County water supply here and how it kept, ehhh, resurfacing throughout this trip. I'd semi-jokingly made us watch Chinatown as prep for visiting California but I had no idea how relevant it would all be. Mono Lake was maybe the most striking example, but I wish we'd had time to stop at Hetch Hetchy too (though I realize that's SF not LA).


Pictured below is the van fridge, which worked exactly as advertised. Basically Kevin had two batteries, one for the engine and normal interior lights and radio, just like a normal passenger car (English?), and another battery for the fridge and for some additional lighting. You could access both batteries via a standard car lighter interface (technical term?), which was especially handy at night because you could keep your phone charging on the extra battery without worrying about further crippling Kevin's interest in starting the motor. And plus your stuff stayed cool. 

So what was in there on Day 2? A loaf of very good sourdough from Erick Schat's Bakkerij in Bishop, yes a giant tourist attraction bakery (but a good bakery nonetheless) with Dutch roots; and yes, those are Gardenburgers, purchased in Lone Pine, just in case; some beers from Indian Wells, a local brewery that seemed to be recommended every time we asked for a local beer, very drinkable if a little on the safe side; a peach and mango salsa from that brand that every Safeway/Kroger/Publix carries; a little Styrofoam tub of "Real Salted Butter" from Erick Schat's that was a good friend and a $9 jar of Maple Pumpkin Butter also from Erick Schat's that seemed a tad pricey at first but after a few days also became quite a good friend as well. Oh and a big thing of water.

Nelson thought it was all psychological, but I don't know, I think I'm a bit too oblivious for these things to work on me. This water was delicious, maybe the best water I've ever had. The psychological part is that I first noticed this deliciousness in Death Valley. We'd been outside the car for 10 minutes or something, and I suddenly found myself truly, uncomfortably thirsty. Now normally I barely pay any attention to any urgent messages my body is trying to send me, say regarding basic maintenance needs or sleep or safety, and this thirst punctured my consciousness in a quite unfamiliar way. And the water was ice cold and perfect in every way, so good I spent several guilty minutes afterwards feeling very very bad for anyone who found themselves in the desert without this water or without any hope of any water.


Then we finally made it to Lee Vining and Whoa Nellie/Tioga Gas Mart.

Along with Dick's in Mendocino, Whoa Nellie was one of the first targets added to the itinerary way back when: a gas station with good healthy food and live music out in the middle of nowhere.

I think we'd expected something a bit more counterculture-y and wild: in the end it really was just a Mobil gas station with a really nice view and a California style kitchen making good fresh food. This is their Grilled Veggie Sandwich:

Which, after a couple of vegetable-free days (unless you count avocado), seemed like the healthiest sandwich on the planet, if challenging in terms of mouth size.

Then after topping off the tank with the trip's most expensive gasoline ($4.29/gallon) it was off into Yosemite to be eaten by bears. But first a tiny word about gas. I haven't owned or really driven a car since gas prices were above $2. A quick Google shows that in 2000, the last time I owned a car, gas was $1.50 a gallon. It was a slightly surreal feeling to put 5 gallons of gas in the tank and spend $20, I don't know how anyone with a car has managed to survive the last 15 years.


And then it was off into Yosemite to be eaten by bears. Specifically Bear #37.

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